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‘Thousands of saplings to be planted across Kingdom after snow wreaked havoc on trees’

By Hana Namrouqa - Jan 13,2014 - Last updated at Jan 13,2014

AMMAN — Thousands of saplings will be planted across the country on Wednesday to compensate for the trees destroyed in December’s snowstorm, which was a “strong blow” to Jordan’s forestry sector, an official said on Monday.

More than 10,000 saplings will be planted in celebration of Arbour Day and also to replace thousands of trees that were damaged late last year, Agriculture Ministry Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin said.

“During this time every year, the ministry’s forestry department plants saplings on hundreds of dunums to expand the green cover. This year, however, will be different, as the new saplings will replace thousands of uprooted trees,” Haddadin told The Jordan Times over the phone.

A nationwide campaign to plant trees across the country will be launched from a forest in Deir Alla in the central Jordan Valley, where over 10,000 saplings will be planted on 200 dunums, he added.

“The ministry started planting trees in the 70,000-dunum Deir Alla forest in 2009. The step seeks to create more green spaces in the country, especially in areas that lack forests,” Haddadin noted.

The spokesperson said the forestry department’s 13 nurseries across the country will provide the saplings, noting that they produce 3 million saplings of 80 different kinds every year.

“The department annually distributes 1.5 million saplings to the public free of charge, in addition to 500,000 saplings to public and private institutions. Another one million saplings are left at the nurseries to produce more,” Haddadin highlighted.

The tradition of Arbour Day in the Kingdom began in 1939 with a ceremony held in the Jabal Al Qalaa neighbourhood.

Since then, it has been an annual celebration, with the Agriculture Ministry choosing a different location each year to plant various saplings.

Illegal logging during winter, wild fires in summer and insufficient rain due to climate change are the main threats to Jordan's shrinking green cover, which stands at less than 1 per cent of the country's total landscape, according to experts.

Several projects were launched over the past years to increase forest terrain in Jordan and create more green spaces, including the national forestry project, the forests protection project and the Green Belt project, under which trees are planted along the desert road, which links the country’s central and southern regions.

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